Do you have a local baker or bakery that is out of this world amazing? We do. Ours is the Amazing Amy from Amy's Cupcake Shoppe out of Minnetonka, MN. She's incredible and amazing. I'm seeing how many times I can insert the word amazing in this post without being too obnoxious. We know that the best cookies, cakes, and macarons come from her...always. Her clients know it, too! Best quote she's recently heard came from the father-of-the-bride at a taste tasting, who said to his daughter:
If you don't get these cupcakes, I'm not paying for your wedding.
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High praise indeed!
But sometimes it simply isn't practical to buy every dessert from her, no matter how much we would like to. And let me tell you, we. would. like. to!
Keeping in mind those days when you and I simply can't order our favorite baker's cake or dessert, we spent a few hours with Amy in her kitchen chatting all things baking. She had about five different things going on at the time but let us chat, take pictures, and pick her brain for all sorts of tips and tricks you and I can use in OUR baking. Here are some of the best tips and tricks we ALL can take away...
She totally said that! I was a bit in shock, to be honest. It seems only logical that expensive pans would produce better results. Amy said no, there is no need for you and I to have fancy pants pans. Just be sure to properly grease the ones we have and they should work just fine. Love this tip, saved me some bucks!
King Arthur Flour bakers companion. It tells everything about baking.
For the record, I didn't have this one and promptly went and got it. It's like a dictionary for baking. It really has everything!
"Hard butter won't incorporate into the sugar as well," Amy says. So when you're trying to whip up a fantastic butter-cream, and you are using harder butter, you'll never be as successful as you'd like. And Amy says the microwave is not a great option, "If you microwave butter, if you melt it at all, the fats are separated and it never comes back to its original state." So, unless you are very, very careful, the microwave can completely destroy your recipe. So try your hardest to get the butter out before you go to bed!
Amy uses vanilla bean paste rather than vanilla extract in her cupcakes because of the visual component the paste brings to her cupcakes. You can SEE the beans and boy oh boy do they look more delicious! Her recommendation is that when you create a vanilla recipe in which you will see the cake/cookie, use vanilla paste.
When making recipes that are measured in grams, it is necessary to weigh your ingredients.
The difference between grams and cups or grams and pounds, etc.. can be significant. It is best to be safe and measure out your ingredients.
note: Amy also measures out her butter for her macarons (if you haven't had the privilege of having one of her macarons...you must!)
This is our favorite tip of all the awesome knowledge bestowed on us. Use quality ingredients where it counts, but save where it doesn't. Meaning if you are making a chocolate cake make sure you use the BEST chocolate, but feel free to save money on other ingredients. A butter cake might have the BEST butter you can find. And vanilla bean ice cream...you guessed it, vanilla bean and cream would be super high quality.
Using this tip will help you save cash but keep great quality in your baking.
Many home cooks assume that it is better to overcook baked goods than under-cook, but Amy believes just the opposite. "Err on the other side, " Amy says. Slightly underdone cupcakes taste much better than overdone, dry, and cracked ones. "As soon as you touch the top and it springs back, it's done."
Keep decorating simple if you are a newbie.
An easy way to decorate would be any tip from Michael's and a piping bag, or you can simply spread frosting on with a knife if you're really going old school.
Has she been in my kitchen? I don't even own a piping bag (not joking...really!). I still fake it with a good ol' ziploc bag.
"I always clean as I go...whenever I'm done baking, I always have a clean kitchen!"
We know the Pooh bear cake has nothing to do with cleaning but dang...it's so cute we couldn't resist including it! For the record, we are firm believers in this tip as well. Cooking from a small apartment kitchen means space is the greatest commodity we have. Cleaning as we go allows us to keep our cool, and have as much space as possible to work.
Amy has her very own mini-me patiently learning, tasting, and trying all the tricks of the trade. We may not have our very own master cupcake maker as a mother, but all of us can take these few tricks and make our treats taste better, our baking more efficient, and simply have more fun & enjoyment in the kitchen.
A big GIANT thank-you to Amy from Amy's Cupcake Shoppe for letting us tag along and stalk her for a morning. Giant hugs and love to you lovely lady! If you are in the MN area be sure to grab some of her delicious treats, or sign-up for a macaron making class at her website www.amyscupcakeshoppe.com . We guarantee that you will want to eat her cupcakes for all the days, in all the flavors, and in every way possible (we recommend frosting first).